Power, Knowledge, and Class in 'Everyday' Documentary (8/1; 3/6-10]

full name / name of organization: 
SCMS Panel Proposal
contact email: 

Power, Knowledge, and Class in 'Everyday' Documentary

This panel would like to consider how 'everyday' documentary provides access to the ways in which power and privilege present itself. Scholarly accounts often identify the technocrat in documentary with that discreet 1930s historical moment when documentary intersected with state-initiated reform, i.e. New Deal photography and film and Griersonian documentaries. However, recent documentaries, as well as excavations of industrial and educational films, show technocratic figures [often as talking heads or expert narrators] to be authorities and metonymies for larger competing sets of interests, albeit refigured by their role in film discourse. This panel will focus on nonfiction films that highlight the interrelation of knowledge and power with class privilege and economic power in texts that might be considered popular, mainstream, or at the very least, ubiquitous, such as 'popular' documentaries, television or cable shows, educational films, and media programs. In part, this topic encourages development of Nichols' idea of documentary's 'sober discourse,' in which documentary is linked to discourses that seek to shape the world, and have at least the presumption of the power to do it. It ties this to a class-based, cultural studies analysis of nonfiction texts that are often ignored, but frequently seen.

We seek participants with conference papers that intersect with the problems and questions raised above. We see this broadly, and invite people to explain in their proposal how their topic is in dialogue with the panel's topic.

The panel proposal will be submitted to the SCMS Conference in Chicago, March 6-10, 2013 at the Drake Hotel.

Send 250 word proposals with a short bibliography (3 references) to Sara Sullivan at sullsara@gmail.com or Joshua Gooch at joshuagooch@gmail.com by August 1. Acceptances will be sent out by August 10th. Email any questions.